Only one in 20 fathers takes primary parental leave

Only one in 20 Australian fathers takes primary parental leave, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.

Mothers take 95 per cent of the primary carers leave in Australia, and a lack of legislated shared parental leave, traditional gender roles and the gender pay gap are all working to prevent fathers from taking on the role, according to a report conducted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Parents At Work chief executive Emma Walsh told The Guardian that  Australia did not have a nationally legislated approach to shared parental leave and as a result fathers were often automatically labeled as secondary carers.

“Most employers provide limited parental leave for secondary carers, if any at all,” she said.

“This divide is reinforced by entrenched social views of the breadwinner and homemaker gender ideals. Fathers are conscious of a stigma and bias around taking extended leave, especially when they are unable to see many of their male colleagues taking leave.”

Walsh says extensive research demonstrates the benefits of fathers taking parental leave, including more equal distribution of unpaid care work, a better balance between work and family for both parents, and more opportunities for mothers to pursue their career with flexibility and purpose.

 “Economically, shared parental leave is unequivocally good for business. The retention of talent and lower rates of staff turnover, resulting in lower recruitment and training costs, is a key reason some employers provide paid family leave.”